Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Chick at the Festival Part 1

So last night I scooted on over toe the 2011 Atlanta Film Festival to see the documentary Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone.  If you don't know, Fishbone is probably one of the only punk rock/ska bands made up of entirely African-Americans.  I was prepared for a standard documentary--some footage, some commentary and decent, if surface, insight into a band and the fickle music industry that just wouldn't know what to do with a black rock band.  But what I got was so much more.  The filmmakers, Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler (who was in attendance for Q&A at the screening), were really able to lay bare the the formation of the band through the present incarnation which features just two of the original members Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore.  And when I say lay bare, I mean the souls band members are laid bare--joy, pain, all of it.  Born out of 1970s segregated Los Angeles and the forced busing of black kids from South Central in to suburban schools in The Valley, six black kids formed a band with a punk sensibility and black roots.  While everyone believes that the music is genius and live shows like none other, mainstream success has eluded the band.  While one would think that the lack of success lies in the subtle racism of the music industry, one of the producers and the band itself suggests that the band was and is "too democratic" in trying to accommodate the artistic visions off all the members, leading to the defections of original members Chris Dowd and "Dirty" Walt Kibby and ongoing power struggle between Angelo and Norwood.  (Also examined is Kendall Jones and his dramatic departure from the band for religious reasons.)  However, it is this  musical democracy that makes Fishbone the unique force that it is.  And it's still rocking almost three decades later.  My favorite part of the film are the interactions of Angelo and his mother with whom the artist has had to move back in due to financial reasons.  You can tell just by looking at her how tightly wound Mrs. Moore is, tolerating her "emotional" son rather than understanding him completely.  But you can tell the two love each other deeply in spite of their differences.  I also enjoyed the animation that was used to tell the stories of how the band members met in junior high school and also used to tell the story of Kendall's departure.  Overall, an awesome film.  The film will screen again at the Atlanta Film Festival on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.  A theatrical release is in the works as well as a dvd release in late summer.

Similar films you might enjoy on the topic of black rock musicians are Electric Purgatory, Afro-Punk, and Passing Strange.

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